After an Eden Prairie victory, earlier this season Eagles' head coach Mike Grant summed up his offensive strategy this way. “You know what we do. If we get a two score lead, we bleed the clock.” That is precisely what the Eagles did to the Minnetonka Skippers during their 38-17 victory to give Eden Prairie the 6A championship. Here are five observations from the game that helped the Eagles to the championship.
The Eagles' pulling linemen dominated the front seven of the Skippers for long stretches of the game. Center Joe Schreiber, guards Michael Fabel, Ryan Smith and Clayton Binner, tackles Bronson Warner and Jacob Foss and tight end, Will Sather, opened up the middle of the field with their trap block game. Not only did the line open holes for the runners, but they also forced the Skippers' defense to creep up and leave their corners in one on one coverage where Cole Kramer used the play action game and his legs on naked bootlegs to pick up chunks of yardage.
Another reason for the Eden Prairie domination not just tonight but the entire season is they have Antonio Montero, and you don't. Montero dominated the game almost as much as the Eagles' offensive line. He stuffed the box score with 58 rushing yards, three rushing touchdowns, two receptions for 27 yards and six tackles. He kicked off, was perfect on five extra points, kicked a 42-yard field goal and averaged 36 yards on two punts.
The Skippers looked like they were about to get blown off the field, but their prayers were answered just before the end of the first half. With three seconds to play in the first half, Jackson Owens caught a Hail Mary pass for a 40-yard touchdown as time expired in the first half. Quarterback Aaron Syverson scrambled to his left and threw it as far as he could against his body. The Skippers went 80 yards in 44 seconds to cut the EP lead to 24-17.
Those would be the last points the Eden Prairie defense would allow. The Skippers were flying high coming out of the locker room after the Hail Mary pass. The Skippers' defense forced a three and out giving their offense good field position. The EP defense took over from there. They forced the Skippers to punt from their own end zone. The Eagles got the ball at the Skipper 36 yard line and four plays later running back D.J. Johnson scored on, and off-tackle run to give the Eagles a 31-17 lead. It was a two-score lead for Grant's team to do what Grant said he wants to do – get a two score lead and bleed the clock.
The final reason for EP's victory was the Eden Prairie machine. Like many games, this season Minnetonka hung with the Eagles for just over two quarters, but when Minnetonka showed any cracks, the Eagles exploited them. Eden Prairie wore the Skippers' defense down and put the game away with three long drives – two that resulted in touchdowns.